About Ebola

I haven’t wanted to write about Ebola. In part, because I don’t want to add to the already rather loud and raucous hysteria.

But also because for some reason I think if I say the name I make it somehow more real, somehow closer to home.

The other night as I was tucking my son into bed, he began talking about a “disease from Africa that is really bad and so we’ve got to remember to wash our hands.” All true and all appropriate for his age. But I reminded him that we must wash our hands for more reasons than “this mystery disease out of Africa.” Enter sis, toothbrush in hand. “Is he talking about Ebola?” she asks, eyes huge and terror etching her brow. Somewhere, she is hearing the hysteria.

And so I launched into my mama-bear act. “Ebola is a disease we want to avoid, and yes, it is imperative that we wash our hands to protect us from all kinds of diseases, from the common cold to the flu. But here in the United States, we have very good doctors and lots of medical supplies to help people recover from Ebola. We have big drug companies who are working hard to find cures and vaccines. We are going to be fine.”

End of discussion.

Except for the ongoing discussion we’re having at Compassion Tea. The weekly prayers for our clinics in eastern and southern Africa, that Ebola doesn’t find its way to them, these speak to a very different reality. Western Africa, where Ebola is rampant currently, is not unlike eastern and southern Africa. There are parts of the entire continent where there is just not adequate healthcare. There aren’t enough doctors, medical supplies, surgical gloves, masks, medicines, sanitation, and ways to isolate. There isn’t enough knowledge and expertise, particularly in the rural parts of the continent.

In a recent USA Today article, Alimatu Sesay, a nurse at a government hospital in the northern city of Makeni, Sierra Leone, is quoted as saying, “We’re getting frustrated because we are not equipped to respond to cases…. When there is a suspected case, we have to send to Freetown for tests and when confirmed, send to Kenema for treatment. But by the time they reach the treatment center, they are already too weak to recover.”

This is in a city, at a government hospital. This is the best medical care Sierra Leone and its neighboring countries can provide.

According to the article: “While much of the fight against Ebola in West Africa focuses on highly populated cities, often overlooked are rural areas where inadequate infrastructure and health care fuel its spread. The lack of any medical facilities for hundreds of miles in these remote regions of Sierra Leone — like in neighboring Liberia and Guinea — is a main reason the country is failing to gain control of the crisis.”

One example of the troubles rural patients face is getting to adequate care. On Oct. 10, a group of infectious Ebola patients was being transferred for treatment from their rural village to a nearby government hospital in the northern region of Sierra Leone. The ambulance carrying them “overturned on a narrow, dirt road, injuring the driver and patients and exposing the area to the deadly virus.” The government hospital proved unable to deal with Ebola and the patients were then “placed back in a vehicle to be driven to a treatment center more than 100 miles away.”

In much of Africa, hospitals are not equipped to provide for more than the medical care of patients. Family members are usually expected to provide food and clothing and clean bedding. With Ebola patients having to travel hundreds of miles to find healthcare, another problem arises. “When our relatives are taken to the center in other areas there is no one to comfort and support them – a few days later they will tell us of their death,” said Mohamed Milton Koroma, vice president of the Makeni Union of Youth Groups.

While the lack of medical care is hampering any efforts to stop Ebola, the disease’s ravages are felt beyond the threat of the disease itself. Another USA Today article says this:

“As Ebola continues its rampage across Liberia and elsewhere in West Africa, thousands of children are taking a double hit: losing parents to the fatal virus and then being shunned by relatives who fear they will catch the disease.

The United Nations estimates the virus has orphaned nearly 4,000 children across the region, and that number could double in coming weeks. Aid groups, such as Doctors Without Borders, fear the orphans are at risk of starvation and disease.

The children also could pose a risk to others by spreading the disease if they are allowed to roam free without being tested for the virus.”

The article tells of the growth of child-headed households due to Ebola and the struggles these children face when grandparents and aunts and uncles walk out of their way to avoid being near the homes of Ebola victims. “I went to my relatives after my mother died, but they chased me away, even after I told them that I didn’t have Ebola,” said 12-year-old Frank Mulbah, whose mother died in Liberia in August.

“In Liberia, the hardest hit country, with nearly 1,000 deaths from Ebola as of last week, about half of all mothers in the country are raising their children alone because thousands of men died in a 1999-2003 civil war. So when these mothers catch Ebola and die, their children have nowhere to turn.
Frank, whose father died in the civil war, said he found no one to care for him — neither in northwest Liberia, where he lived before dropping out of school, nor… in the capital [Monrovia], where he traveled in a desperate search for food and shelter from relatives who refused to take him in…. Frank hopes his relatives will change their minds, but he isn’t hopeful. He tries not to think about getting home-cooked meals or an education.
‘I don’t know when I’ll go back to school,’ he said. ‘Right now I’m just looking for food and a place to live.’”


While CompassioNow doesn’t have the resources in place to currently aid with the medical crisis in western Africa, we are praying for an end to the crisis. And we are redoubling our efforts to support our clinics in eastern and southern Africa. Won’t you please join our efforts and our prayers!

Go here to donate directly. And don’t forget that 100% of our after tax profits at Compassion Tea Company go to CompassioNow to aid “the world’s least served.”

There’s This

When you are radically grateful for what you have, you will go to radical lengths to share it. When you are radically grateful for being blessed — you are radically generous to the oppressed.
When you are radically grateful, you live out of a place of radical abundance — there’s always more space for more to share the grace.
And don’t confuse the idea of personal pride with radical gratitude. You aren’t actually thankful for something if you think you actually earned it. That’s pride, not gratitude.
You are only actually grateful for something if you see it as actually a gift -– as an unearned gift that was bestowed unexpectedly upon you. — Ann Voskamp 

Radical. Grace. Abundance. And when you see what you have in comparison to what they have…well. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, perusing bits of past blogs to see where and why and who… and you in it all!

First, there’s this:
The CareNow Foundation was created after Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom visited several countries in Southern Africa in 2002 and again in 2004. Aghast at the enormity of the AIDS crisis, Ed and Wendy saw that solving the AIDS crisis was an incredibly daunting task but that other aid could be offered immediately. Ed commented the other day that while one could sit around and discuss plans for solving the problem, that wasn’t caring now and caring NOW was what he and Wendy wanted to do, to find ways to help immediately. That people were dying due to the lack of a medicine that cost 25 cents, Ed added, seemed ludicrous and unconscionable to him. Hence, CareNow was created…. (Please remember that CompassioNow was originally called CareNow Foundation.) Lee Kennedy, another founder and Matt’s uncle, explained to me, “Seeing first hand, looking into the eyes of people and realizing how much I have, how much even the poor of this country have, by comparison, changed me. Bill Hybels (Founder and Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago) once stated that when he went to Africa and saw it, something changed and relocated in his gut and it never returned to where it had been. I understand that. Scriptures often talk about how Jesus looked at individuals, the leper, the prostitute, the down and out, and saw them, not their titles, illnesses, occupations. There is something about really looking into the eyes and seeing that changes you. I went through life looking at pictures and news and not really seeing. Once I saw, I had to do something.”

And of course, this:
Jack and Chris Faherty, Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom, and Lee and Anne Kennedy met that weekend in February in Palm Springs as friends whose life experiences had scattered them around California. They left Palm Springs as the founders of a new business… Compassion Tea Company. (**Later, life-long tea drinker, friend, and relative of the Kennedys, Donna Cribbs was asked to join the core group of founders. Together, the board has built this very exciting new company!)
Jack explained to me that all three couples have been actively involved in the CareNow Foundation. Ed and Wendy founded it while Anne and Chris have served on its board and made trips to Africa taking wheelchairs, other medical equipment, and medicines to clinics supported by CareNow. All three couples are intimately involved in the fundraising efforts of CareNow as a result. But Jack wasn’t satisfied with the results. Surely, he thought, there must be a better, more sustainable way to raise funds and awareness.
After looking at the business models of several charitable organizations and after much prayer and research, Jack and Chris felt the answer was tea. Tea, they learned, is the number one beverage consumed worldwide after water. In 2009, Americans alone consumed over 60 billion servings of tea. Improved health is often attributed to drinking tea. Because tea is often produced in poorer, more rural areas of the world, places like those CareNow seeks to help, it seemed like a natural product for increasing awareness of those places. And finally, tea tastes great, encourages relaxation and conversation, and is the perfect event through which to spread compassion.
I remember Aunt Anne excitedly telling me shortly after this February meeting in Palm Springs, “God is our CEO!” The company has chosen this Bible verse as their standard: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” 1 Peter 3:8. It is this awareness, awakeness to use a theme from previous blogs, that started Compassion Tea, and it has been God’s hand that has driven its creation process. We, at Compassion Tea, are all ecstatic about the future… especially since the first shipments of tea have already gone out to eager customers. We have already begun to “Share Tea, Save Lives!” What can we order for you?

And because of all that, there’s this:
Nellie Chitambo, a worker at Mission Medic Air in Zambia, recently wrote the following report: “The airplane is under maintenance so this trip was made using our land vehicle. It started as a normal trip when we left Ndola… Thursday morning. Unfortunately, the vehicle broke down partway to our destination. We had to rebuild the diesel pump and filter which delayed our arrival at the mission hospital significantly. We finally arrived in the early morning hours on Friday….
After resting, the medical team was allocated rooms to operate from and the team got their bags to the rooms to begin their work. There were so many patients that the Optician missed lunch in order to clear the long line of patients.
Medical side was also busy with the group having to take turns to have their lunch. On Saturday after finishing the clinic, the following numbers were treated:
-Medical 251 patients
-Optical 120 patients
15 patients booked for surgery
-Dental 44 patients
TOTAL 415 patients in all” (Read the full report at www.compassionow.org.)
415 people served during a two day clinic in the bush! CompassioNow has in the past provided funding for that airplane which has carried more than one person to hospital in the larger cities to get treatment he or she couldn’t possibly receive in the bush. Back in November, CompassioNow team members carried over suitcases full of eyeglasses and shots of Novocaine which would have been used by the optician and the dentist during this clinic.
We could stop here and pat ourselves on the back. Hey, great job, Compassion Tea/CompassioNow! But that would be all wrong. It feels great to know that what we are doing has dramatic impact on our neighbors in Africa, don’t get me wrong. But we love because God first loved us. And that love aches for those who haven’t been served, it rejoices for those who have, and it hopes for a future wherein we can love on even more people. Love is why.

For the Birds

ImageLast night, Joseph and I decided to mother/son bond with an after-dinner dip in the pool. Before we got in however, we discovered a very dead, very small, barely feathered baby bird floating in the pool. Of course, all kinds of thoughts went through my head about the meaning of life and the fragility of it and the delicate balance between nature and humanity and… then I jumped in the pool and forgot about it.


This morning, I was working on T-ball stuff on my computer and was occasionally glancing up to watch the squirrels scamper about outside the window. Something larger caught my eye and when I focused I realized it was a turkey hen. She was immediately followed by a sister, and when a very large tom strutted past, I got very excited. In total, there were 3 toms and 2 hens and they were very intent on investigating our new landscaping. Winston, the dog, got a whiff through the open windows and his barking chased the 2 hens over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. I believe 2 of the toms followed at some point. But one tom made it all the way to the top of the garden… within sight of the garden boxes. With a mighty leap, he cleared the pool fence, flopped up over the garden boxes, nearly soared for a millisecond over the chicken coop and then crashed somewhere behind the shed in another neighbor’s yard. It was astonishing. This was a prize tom with a very long beard and a beautiful red head. His feathers shown iridescent when he rose above the house shadows into the morning sunlight and had for a striking moment a sheer glory I would never have associated with a turkey.


Shortly thereafter, I drove the kiddos to school… in the rental car I am using while my car is in the shop yet again. As I was pulling up to the drop off lane, I noticed that the car was sputtering and acting funny and otherwise shutting down. I pulled off to the side as much as possible so as not to block traffic too much, sent my very worried daughter into class, and arranged for a friend to take my son to school. The minutes that followed were harried and disappointing, of course, but with some deductive reasoning (i.e. a friend who had something very similar happen to her once upon a time) and the discussion I had had with the rental car guy yesterday I deduced correctly that when this car says it is nearly empty it isn’t being gracious and kind and giving you an early warning. It is going to stop and it won’t go any further until it is fed… um, given more gas. (Insert parallels between children and cars here if you will.) The school principal and the school custodian remembered a gas can used for one of the school’s machines and filled the tank with enough to get me through the rest of the extensive drop-off line and to the closest gas station. I pray a lot out loud while driving and this trip was no different!


While filling up the tank, I began to think back over the events of the morning. And I saw very clearly some parallels. 1. Boy, did I feel like a turkey.


No seriously. I did feel like a turkey, that part is true. At times this morning, I felt very like the turkeys who heard the barking of the dog and in squawking and squabbling haste jumped pell mell over the fence. But really I had a moment of sheer glory when the sun fell full on my feathers and I didn’t just flap but soared over it all. It was when, with heart racing and knuckles whitening, I prayed out loud for God to get this car to the gas station without further shut downs. And He did. And it was when God made sure that the car shut down in a safe place instead of on a busy road. It was a place where the kids would be safe, could even get on with their days. It was a place where people were there to help. And even though I felt like a turkey, I feel blessed. It would have been very easy to complain and chalk this up to a very bad day. But thanks to friends who are great reminders to look for God’s blessings, and thanks to God who has been working on weeding that attitude of ingratitude out of my standard repertoire, I feel blessed.


Here’s where I normally bring it all back to Compassion Tea. The part where I explain what this all has to do with tea, Africa, compassion, or some combination of the three. Obviously, I am very grateful for the compassion of the school staff and the friends who helped me out this morning. Their love and aid made me feel less like a turkey. But, I really want to go back to that baby bird in the pool. Somewhere during the last 18 hours, I paused for a moment and thought about the mama bird. Was she watching her baby when it fell in the pool? Was she cheering it on as it attempted its first flight? Was she frantic at the edge wondering, “Who will help my baby,” wondering how to reach in there and save her baby? Was she out gathering food when a predator came and knocked the infant out of the nest? What was her response when she came home and took roll count? Do mama birds even have these thoughts? How instinctual is mothering and what does instinct dictate when there is loss?


And here is where my mind and heart crossed over to Africa and I thought about the mothers who watch their children starve or die of AIDS because there is nothing to be done. I thought of the mothers who die themselves and leave their progeny with little or nothing in the way of shelter and food, safety and security. I thought of the mothers who in fear walk miles to protect their children from men who may rape, abduct, or abuse them and of the mothers who have despaired for their children. In a world so cruel, where survival is the goal of the day, where medicine, food, water, and security are scarce, what is a mother to do? Some turn their backs, some sell their daughters into sexual slavery and their sons into forced labor, some abandon them to an orphanage… but at what cost.


I have a friend who, bless her heart, reads my blogs. After my last one, she commented on how some people have a heart for Africa but she doesn’t. She prays for people who work in Africa and appreciates their work, but she just doesn’t have a heart for Africa. Her comment sounded sad to me. There doesn’t need to be sadness in her heart, however, because while her heart may not bleed the same color mine does for Africa, it certainly bleeds for the mothers in our community. This friend will do anything to help another mother… she provides childcare, school drop offs and pick ups, prayer, meals, and endless emotional support. And our community is so blessed because of her.

Do you remember that Bette Midler song… The Wind Beneath My Wings? In the song, Midler sings about friendship being that inspiration, the necessary uplift to get us off the ground. My friend, the one who has a heart for local mothers, is certainly that kind of uplift, the “wind beneath the wings” of so many of us moms. Because of her support, we are able to get beyond the shadows, up into the sunlight, and if it is even just for a millisecond, our feathers shine iridescent and our flight is more soaring than flapping. Faith in God is also that amazing “wind beneath the wings.” I’m learning every day how He provides the winds to help us soar. What a rush!


And through the work of Compassion Tea and CompassioNow, we can provide the “wind beneath the wings” of mothers in Africa. By providing health care, education, job training, childcare, and food Dawn Leppan at 1000 Hills in South Africa is turning around an entire community. By educating, feeding, housing, and providing medical care to orphans, places like Lily of the Valley and Village of Hope are able to provide children with the mothering they need and so desperately crave. Mission Medic Air in Zambia, Tanzania Christian Clinic, and Karero Medical Dispensary give mothers a place to turn for medical aid. Person by person, mother by mother, child by child, we are saving lives in Africa thanks to the support of those who drink Compassion Tea or donate to CompassioNow.


You know, we all have turkey moments, even turkey days. But friends, the good Lord, and even our bleeding hearts can take us to heights we can never imagine. And for a moment, we are less turkey and more glory. May your day be full of glory.


Part 2… The Hope Part

“I’d like you to watch this video. In it, a boy is crying because he is the head of his household. He went to the well to get water for his siblings. The other children at the well pushed him and he wasn’t able to fetch water for his family. He has a mat and no blankets for his family to sleep on. His 4-year-old sister is lame and requires care for even the simplest of things. The boy is 12. At 12, my daughter hopes to purchase her first phone and get her ears pierced. While she will have responsibilities around the house, she will certainly not be responsible for running the household. This boy’s story breaks my heart. And this is just one story. One horrific, unthinkable, unbelievable, mind-blowingly sad story. (stay tuned)”

I wrote and published that two weeks ago and I owe you the rest of the story. Here, I’ve added a story from a woman named Rose. I thought about condensing it but it is so powerful that editing it down would destroy its power. (taken from the Village of Hope website)

English is not Rose’s native tongue, but we have reproduced her story here verbatim so that you can get a sense of her personality and her passion. -Ed.
It is year’s back, when I strongly got inspired to work with the children while I was still a child myself. I was eight when the 20 year war in Northern Uganda began. My family and I were tortured and displaced from our small village called Acholibur. My father had several arrests and each time he was arrested, he was badly beaten to the point of death. Our hearts were always so torn apart. Being a man, our father also got detained with so many others, who were all killed, but God spared him every time. This caused his legs to be paralyzed, till today.
We then fled to the refugee camps and it was there that I made so many friends. Realizing our vulnerability as children, I wanted someone to come and rescue us, but there was no one.
I then wondered whether God could guide me to make some difference in our own lives. During this time all schools were closed down, many young girls were raped and defiled, many children kidnapped and abducted. We would go hungry for days without food, in fear of being found getting food from our own gardens. We would sleep out in the bush in fear of camp attacks, many were bitten by snakes during the night, heavy rains hit us, and others still met these rebels in the bush and were killed.
At the age of ten, being someone so thirsty to serve my peers, I began to teach my friends about God and I would encourage these girls to boldly reject the elder men’s’ proposals for early marriage. All this happened under a “big mango tree” and as I think back, it brings tears to my eyes. But my consolation is that, it is so amazing how God used me at that early age and I must say it really worked out. The children had a change in their lives as a result. They had every reason to refuse to attend the “mango tree Sunday school” teaching!! Besides, I was just a young girl then. But God is so amazing, none of them rejected to come and we were such a huge population. It’s now that, I can see how great and good God is. He used me in my innocence to bring some change in the life of my fellow suffering friends
During this time, we started expanding our mission outside the “mango tree”. We would minister with our parents door to door within the refugee camp. As children from a traumatized community though, it’s now, that I can define what the problem was then. Many families had broken up and most children had been separated from their parents and were now on the streets. They would spend nights anywhere they wished and others were already involved in theft, prostitution and so on. We went and prayed with them, and I got so impressed, because so many of these street children got transformed as a result of this ministry. Many went back home and were reconciled with their parents, and we kept following them up till they settled into their homes. This made me feel that God could also strongly use me to do bigger things despite being a child.
The war then intensified and so many of these friends with whom we prayed did not survive. Some were massacred by the Rebels, others abducted and so on.
We continued fleeing. I went and joined my elder sister Jessica and her family where we were safe. She took care of us and put us back in school.
My heart remained behind because my parents and my friends had remained in the danger zone. This fills me with guilt to date, because I fled and left my friends who never made it.
Since my heart remained back at my roots, having experienced what it felt to be caught in the war, I kept praying that God would empower me to help my people some day at school, I always targeted a course that would help me go back and work better with the suffering people in the northern part of Uganda. I then decided to do social work and social administration, I later added counseling because the war has caused a huge untold level of trauma in people’s emotions, therefore they will need a lot of psychosocial support and that, I promise to offer as long as I live.
After my education
Immediately after my education, as promised, I went back to Northern Uganda. But this time, the rebel activities were more intense. Many from the other part of the country wondered why I was moving back to this region, given the security situation. I only told them that God will take care of me.
This seemed one of the worst times. The attacks were more frequent, many children were killed and others abducted. Thousands of children would walk long distances in search of safer places within the heart of the town, where the government soldiers guarded and so the rebels feared to reach.
Lots of risks rose as a result of such kind of sleeping because they slept at the shop verandas just mixed men, women and children. In the process many children were raped and tortured.
As if the above trauma and torture was not enough, the children traveled very long distances both mornings and evenings. Then later to school, most times without food, if any, then one meal a day which made most of them look so weak and vulnerable to diseases.
On seeing the above risks, we as volunteers wanted to see that a change is made. We advocated to the district that something must be done to make sure the children are separated from the big men who were taking the young girls at such risks of early pregnancies, HIV/aids exposure etc.
We decided to spend nights out with these children so that we could guard them from the rapists. This helped some, though these same risks were also experienced on the way to these sleeping places and besides, the children were so many and scattered, meaning the three of us only wouldn’t really monitor their safety so well.
Due to this demand some NGO’s started opening the night commuter centers which helped to safeguard the children from these risks because most of them restricted the age to 17yrs maximum. We sorted out these children and we allocated them to the different centers, out of the streets.
It didn’t take long, when I got employed by Medicines Sans Frontiers {msf swiss} in the night commuters’ center as a center counselor.
Here, it seemed like it was just the beginning of everything.
Over four thousand children came to this night commuter center every night. So scared, helpless, tired and most of them, so hungry. I was the only counselor to handle all these children every night.
It was a big challenge. Because all of them wanted me to at least listen to them, given the different problems at hand. Most of these children were so torn away from their parents, because they had very little time for each other. Since the parents would leave their sleeping places, and immediately try and search for something to eat for the children, they move from the night commuters centers, back and right away to school without seeing their parents and during the evenings, they leave school, and most times go straight to the centers. Because if they moved back home, it gets late and risky for them on the way since the rebels would also trap them on their ways when it gets late. That is why they would choose to go hungry, rather than get abducted on the way.
It wasn’t easy for me myself, to listen to all these heart breaking stories. Many times I could first lock up myself into the counseling room and weep, before I could go on again. It was so terrible seeing and listening to very heavy stories, from a baby. So young to even carry the burdens of life but they are already doing so.
During this time, I made individual and group counseling.
Through this, I was trying to lift these children back on their feet, but the situation here was so tricky. Reason being, it was very hard to terminate a session with these child. Their problems were always retriggered immediately they leave the center. Some of the perpetrators are the guardians, frustrated parents, and the rebels themselves. So I had to carry on with all the clients on board.
I then decided to design another method of work. I started working 24hrs day’s planed a day schedule from 8:00am-6:00pm and from here I moved direct to the night commuters’ center. During this time, I made follow ups and family/school monitoring. I also made door to door counseling to both the children and their family members affected by the war. This seemed to work, because then, I was available for them whole day and even all night from the center. All in all I thank God for the strength he gives me to serve the children. On my own, I know I could do nothing.
After a year, I moved to World Vision, though still worked with the same children, but this time under another organization. On top of that, I had more vulnerable children to deal with this time. The formerly abducted, others could have spent as long as ten years and above in abduction, has under gone a lot. For example: children who had killed several people including their own close relatives, psychological torture, like killing their own parents, cutting the stomach and removing her intestines, then it is rubbed all over ones body and one is forced to stay with it that way, for a week, in the name of initiation to wipe away all the fear and make one bold to freely kill as many people as possible. I think you can now imagine the level of trauma we had to fight out.
Within the community, I went ahead with the group method, here I was trying to reduce the stigmatization of the formerly abducted and former soldiers, enhance proper reintegration, through the kind of forgiveness we got from Christ, so unconditional!. We decided to mix these formerly abducted with the none formerly abducted so that we could give them a clear understanding of each other, and it’s the same them, who help us sensitize the community through music, dance and drama. Before this, the formerly abducted were rejected from the community, with a wrong perception that they are the ones who have caused all the suffering people are under going in the North. So this made many parents reject their own children, with the fear that the other community members will attack them. This provoked many of these formerly abducted to move back in the bush and join the rebels. With all the anger, they have been the worst in making serious vengeful attacks to these community members. But when the anti stigmatization campaigns went on, the community started understanding and now as I talk, it has really worked out well. We are still moving on with these sensitizations from camp to camp and the community response is really good, thus more corporation between the formerly abducted and community at large.
Well, that is what I’m still doing up to now. Though the government ordered that all the night commuter centers get closed, last Dec 15, 2006. And so now that the security was a bit calm compared to before, most of these children now sleep at home. Through some still went back in some verandas due to the fear of abduction and besides, most of these displaced families have limited space at home so the parents/guardians don’t fit in the small huts rented so the children are sent out to look for where to sleep.
When time had come for me to leave World Vision, because my contract with them had ended, I told myself that the end of this contract does not mean the end of my work. So I just continued to do the same kind of work with the children. Looking at their faces calling out for help, I really couldn’t let them go, because they are so precious to me. What I do with them, is so little, but they have made me understand that this little thing means a lot to them. Being there for them whenever they need me means a lot in their lives. And I thank God who still enables me to be around them.
As usual, God sees miles ahead of our sights. During this time we surely needed some support beyond what I was providing for the children, so I always shared this with friends so that we can pray for God’s provision, besides the counseling and follow up I’m doing. To my surprise, one day, an organization called ALARM came with a team that was ready to provide to the child headed house holds. I remember that day; I was just from visiting a child headed household. They are five at home, the eldest is 13yrs, she was so sick that day and so the family had spent some three days back without food, there wasn’t any drugs for her to take, so she was just waiting for anything to come her way. When i reached there, she felt so relived and was sure that as usual, I have either brought them food or some money for upkeep.
Unfortunately, I had nothing that day because I was so broke myself. On seeing the condition, I decided to rush home so that I could get them even the little I had, plus some medication. That is when God opened for us a way. I got this call that the child headed families will be supported in terms of school fees, meals and medical care and this money was already sent to my account. I just sat down in the middle of the road and wept with joy. Though this seemed just a drop in an ocean, but it means a lot in the heart of these few beneficiaries their lives are changed because of this and so many out here are still looking for the same.
Never did God stop here with his surprises, he went ahead and introduced me to someone so loving and caring to the chidren and that is a sister in Christ Cindy Cunningham.
She then came up with even a greater dream for these children, just like I did but I couldn’t afford at my level of course. This dream is that of a children’s’ home fully equipped with the basic needs like a school.
And this village is called “Village of Hope”
When she shared this idea with me, I felt it was God’s calling. And as I speak I’m already working for “Village of Hope”. I must confess I’m so glad that I can work to fulfill the children’s’ dream through Village of Hope, I pray God gives me more strength to make his will be done for the suffering children of Northern Uganda.
Many of these children were born within this war time and so they have never seen what a peaceful home is like!!!
They get surprised when they hear of a warless land, to them it’s strange and unrealistic all they know of is war, fights, fleeing, abductions, killing and seeing loved ones get killed, family separation and losing hope for any good, happening to them at all.
This gives a great opportunity to Village of Hope to operate and see to it that, this need is addressed by the grace of God I believe these children will see the other side of the coin. We will struggle and together fill this gap.
Our cry goes out to any heart that feels for these wounded children who lost their childhood, the same way we do, to come and join hands and together we will make the total healing in their lives. For it doesn’t take a millionaire to bring this transformation, because we serve a big, big God. Even the poorest is most welcome into this battle. Remember!!! A Thousand years from now, it won’t mater the expensive fancy cars we drove, the big mansions we occupied, the heavy bank accounts we owned, but many generations will know about the transformation you brought into the lives of these wounded children in Africa.
We need your continuous prayers! May God bless every reader.
Love from the very bottom of my heart and that of the children I work for they love you big— time.
We are all praying for you too.
May God bless you always.

The place Rose mentions here, Village of Hope, has a clinic on its campus. The clinic is staffed by Nurse Susan and Dr. Mac and serves the roughly 200 orphaned children living at Village of Hope as well as children who attend school at Village of Hope and the staff members and their families. Nurse Susan and Dr. Mac provide care for complaints such as malaria, typhoid, syphilis, epilepsy, bacterial and fungal infections, coughs, allergies, asthma, abdominal complaints, and ulcers. Many of the children at the orphanage, and those served by the clinic, are suffering from major trauma, both physically and emotionally.

About 10 years ago, Wendy Bjurstrom of CompassioNow and Compassion Tea met Jessica, Rose’s older sister. Jessica shared with Wendy the plight of the children in northern Uganda in a way that touched Wendy’s heart. She began following Invisible Children’s efforts, and through Jessica and her work with ALARM, began supporting a child financially. Through these efforts, Wendy met Cindy Cunningham, founder of Village of Hope. Their paths continued to cross over the years and in early April Wendy brought the clinic at Village of Hope to the CompassioNow board of directors and asked that CompassioNow begin financially supporting the clinic. The clinic was approved and the first check has gone out!

CompassioNow now supports the work of rural clinics in 5 African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, and Uganda. We are so excited about this addition! Ed and Wendy will be traveling to Uganda this year to ascertain first hand the needs of the clinic and to lend further support.

Village of Hope and its clinic are remote, about 60 miles from the nearest city and hospital. Therefore, the roughly 1000 residents of the surrounding area do not have easy access to quality health care. When asked if she would like to open the clinic up to more of the community, Village of Hope founder Cindy Cunningham responded, “That would be AWESOME!” It is our hope for Village of Hope’s clinic that, through your support of Compassion Tea and CompassioNow, one day the clinic will be able to serve the broader community. For now, we are thrilled to be helping the children at the orphanage and their caregivers. Thanks to you, we can!


“So, what did you do today, dear?” The question is not meant to be loaded, but most days I struggle to answer it. Between running errands and shuttling children, cooking, cleaning, and carrying on, what do I actually do that might have any comic value, insight, or interest to a man who is about to fall asleep on the sofa? I recently asked Danny Smelser, the chief physician/missionary at Tanzania Christian Clinic, a variation of this question. “What does a typical day look like for you at the clinic?” I asked. His answer was an honest, “No day is typical!”


But if he had to pin it down to broad generalities, it would look something like this. A weekday begins around 6:30 AM when Danny and his wife, Nancy, open the clinic for cleaning. An important part of every day is pumping water to the holding tank for use in the clinic. Because patients are seen in the order in which they arrive at the clinic, one of the staff begins handing out numbers around 8 AM. Danny and Nancy hold a short devotional around 8:30 before they meet with their first patient. Lunch is taken from 1:30 to 2 and closing time is roughly 4:30 PM depending on when the last patient is seen and treated. Afternoons may also include home visits to see patients who aren’t mobile and runs to the nearest hospital. Danny commented that his evenings are short as there is really nothing to do after the clinic closes. Saturdays are reserved for the week’s shopping of groceries and medicines in the closest town, Arusha, a 45 minute drive away. Sundays are spent at the little church next to the clinic or in Bible studies in the homes of the locals.


During our conversation, Danny also spoke about a wide range of topics such as his thankfulness for an x-ray machine that was recently donated to the clinic. Now, he is actively seeking a trained technician to run the machine. He spoke about the challenges of finding medicines such as Pepto Bismal, which is often used to treat a myriad of gastrointestinal complaints at the clinic, but which is not available locally. He commented that things like gloves, casting materials, elastic bandages and dressings run out quickly… things we would never expect our doctors to go without.


The complaints that Danny treats most often at the clinic are febrile in nature, such as malaria and typhoid. Gastro and parasitic diseases are the next most common complaints followed by pulmonary illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Over course, HIV/AIDS is ever-present, affecting nearly 10% of the area population. Hypertension, diabetes, and asthma are on the rise, according to Danny. Danny commented that about 1 in 5 children qualify for protein supplements at the clinic, which indicates a low caloric/low protein diet, but rarely do they see a life-threatening case of malnutrition.


The clinic treated approximately 5,700 patients in 2012 at roughly a cost of $5.50 per patient (a cost which includes labs, pharmaceuticals, and seeing the doctor!). The donations the clinic receives help to keep these costs low; however, even that low of a cost is still difficult for Tanzanian patients to pay. The clinic staffs the Smelsers as well as David, the clinical officer, two nurses, one lab technician, and 15 Tanzanians as grounds and security staff.


“We lay our a-typical days on God’s care,” stated Danny as he wrapped up our conversation. “And we thank you for your support of the clinic and the work we do there!” Thank you, Compassion Tea friends, for your support!

 For more information, visit http://www.tanzaniacc.org.